Student, Harvard Law School (2010-2013); Business Analyst, McKinsey & Company (2008-2010)
Grad Year: 2007
Other areas of sudy/degree(s):
Masters in Public Health (MPH, Spring '08)
Why I chose English Language and Literature
Enrolling at Michigan as an undergraduate, I intended to work through the natural science curriculum, eventually applying to medical school. Yet during my sophomore year, the luster of that path had faded. While I had taken the MCAT and completed the required coursework for medical school admissions, I decided to shift gears, instead pursuing a B.A. in English, as well as applying for and gaining admission to the Masters in Public Health (MPH) program, which I completed during my junior and senior years.
Choosing English at this juncture was simple, for a variety of reasons. For one, enrolling in electives during my freshman and sophomore year meant that I was closer to completing this degree than others. More importantly, that exposure had shown me what the English department had to offer; as compared to 700-student lectures for organic chemistry, an English 407 seminar during my freshman year had less than 15 students, creating a more engaging learning environment and one I was excited to be part of.
Discovering an interest in the breadth of studying English through these initial courses also helped convince me that my academic curiosity would be satisfied, not siloed, if I proceeded toward an English degree. The range of experiences I had going forward — from learning the development of speech patterns in English 308 (History of the English Language) to considering applications of game theory to readings of Henry James in English 852 (Fictions of Finance) — proved that initial notion true. Not enrolling in another natural science course after my sophomore year, I finished two classes away from competing the Biology concentration and do not regret leaving it that way.
Another decisive factor toward me choosing an English degree was the opportunity to pursue an Honors thesis that would be flexible to my interests. Finding synergies between my two main academic thrusts — English and Public Health — the focus of my junior year was exploring the subject of news media coverage of emerging infectious disease epidemics. With the guidance of Professor Anne Curzan, the final product, “SARS: How the News Media Cause and Cure and Epidemic of Fear,” remains a work that I’m proud of and is the output of a process that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Last but not least, encounters outside of the classroom thanks to my English degree added to my Michigan experience. In working with Professor William (Buzz) Alexander, I joined other English concentrators in his English 310 course and the Prisoner Creative Arts Program; for two years, I spend my Sunday mornings facilitating theatre and poetry workshops for incarcerated juvenile offenders at a nearby state prison. My background in English also made me a useful commodity elsewhere on campus, including working my way up to the role of Editor-in-Chief for the Michigan Journal of Political Science by my senior year. In this way, the benefits that I realized from English courses were worth far more than simply completing the major. Whether during work after undergrad or now as a law student, aptitude for quick comprehension, incisive questioning, and cogent argumentation has helped me immensely, and the English curriculum was critical to me developing those skills.
My Academic and Career Paths
Time since graduation has yet to set me on a particular academic or career path. Fortunately, the focus of my English degree was on gaining general skills, applicable in any setting, and my experiences as an undergraduate have served me well at each juncture thus far.
After graduating from Michigan with a B.A. in English (Fall ’07) and a Masters in Public Health (MPH, Spring ’08), my following summer was in Washington, D.C., as a Research Fellow at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. At the end of the summer, I relocated to Seattle, joining McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm, for their two-year Business Analyst program. This proved to be a tremendous experience, as I became an “expert” on health systems and health reform, working for major for-profit and non-profit hospital systems in the United States, as well as Ministries of Health around the world.
With multiple options at the end of my tenure at McKinsey, I began interviewing with private equity and venture capital firms, but switched away from that focus midstream, recognizing the timing was more appropriate for me to return to school. Reaching that conclusion, I realized that I still wanted another educational experience and that it might be ‘now or never’ for me to return to campus.
Laying out my options, medical, business, and law school were all in play. Memories of undergrad convinced me to drop medical school. Deciding between law and business was a longer process, but a series of actors pushed me towards law school in the end, including having a longer period of time to explore options for the future and having exposure to a very different learning experience and community than the one I’d seen at McKinsey. After going through the application process, I choose to enroll at Harvard Law as a part of the Class of 2013. And while I’m still uncertain as to what will come next, the foundation that helped make this possible — the skill set that I gained at Michigan — will always be there.
Charles Aldrich, Jacquelyn Dekker, Amy Glezen Simpson, Neal P. Goldman, Chris Hall, Robert Kleinberg, Neil Rao, Elizabeth Bender, Stephen Brown, Joseph Ferrentino, Ethan Goodman, Margaret Vincent, Aric Knuth, Kelly O’Connor McNees, Amanda Richardson, Rebecca Soares, Kurt Taroff, Lisa Vandenbossche
Related Career FieldsBusiness/Administration, Law, Post-Graduate Education